Extremists arrested in France as Toulouse gunman Merah buried

By Jennifer Lipman, March 30, 2012

Nineteen suspected extremists have been arrested in a crackdown in France as the country reacts to the worst attack on the Jewish community in decades.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently campaigning for re-election, told French radio: "It's in connection with a form of Islamist radicalism.” A police official told Associated Press that the arrests were not connected with the investigation of a spate of Islamist murders in Toulouse.

Mr Sarkozy said that the police would continue efforts which would “allow us to expel from our national territory a certain number of people who have no reason to be here.

"It's our duty to guarantee the security of the French people. We have no choice. It's absolutely indispensable.” The arrests came as Mohammed Merah, the gunman who killed four people at the Ozer Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse last week and three paratroopers before that, was buried in a cemetery outside Toulouse.

Merah’s Algerian father had requested that the killer be buried in his family plot in the north African country, but it is understood that Algerian officials refused permission. Toulouse mayor Pierre Cohen also objected to the gunman being buried in the city.

Last updated: 11:35am, March 30 2012